January 13, 2024

The Storystorm Challenge Part of the Writing Life

One of my favorite and most productive creative rituals is participating in author Tara Lazar's annual Storystorm challenge, a 31-day, online brainstorming event. This year I had the opportunity to be one of the guest bloggers (on Day #6 to be precise). My post is about repurposing party favors and piƱata toys as inspiration for your creative writing practice. You can read the full post here.  

Hosted by Tara Lazar, Art by Courtney Pippen-Mathur

It was such a wonderful feeling to be able to give back to a creative community that has inspired me for many years. And if YOU find storystorm helpful for boosting your creativity and generating ideas (and l assure you, you will!), I encourage you to show your support for the host, Tara Lazar, by purchasing one or more of her books. (If you can't possibly add another book to your bookshelf, you can always purchase a book as a gift for a local teacher or a child in need, or you can check out a copy of one of Tara's books at your local library.)

Something that really stood out for me via the experience of participating in storystorm as a guest blogger is realizing that sometimes I forget to put the best tools in my creative toolbox to use in my own creative writing practice--including some of the tools I'm familiar enough with and enthusiastic enough about to incorporate into my writing workshops, author visits, and encouraging blog posts! 

I love the writing exercise I wrote about in my storystorm guest post, and I've seen many good ideas come from it, both for my own work, and for the participants of various writing workshops I've facilitated for all ages and stages over the years. Even so, sometimes this activity is not top of mind when my mind feels like creative mush, (which, coincidentally, is when I typically most need a creative kick-in-the-pants). 

I've come to realize that writing this post was as much for me as it was for the other writers I intended to share it with. The act of drafting and polishing the blog post helped act as a reminder of how useful the exercise can be for me, and  re-reading the post when it was published to Tara's blog got me even more jazzed up about it. It was as if the writing workshop presenter me was directly speaking to the creative writer me

Although it feels a bit strange to admit that I occasionally need to be reminded to heed my own writing advice, what totally blew me away was how much inspiration I got from just reading the comments on the post. Some commenters offered additional resources that aligned with my exercise, and several commenters offered new and fresh variations on my exercise, which generated SEVERAL new story ideas for my own Storystorm idea file, plus new ideas for my future writing workshops and author visits. How cool is that? 

It was another example of give a little, gain a lot (something I recently mentioned experiencing by virtue of following/commenting on a social media post from esteemed literary agent Carly Watters' Instagram account.)

Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/  

Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/  

Bonus Tip: If you're not already following Carly's IG account, you should--it's overflowing with helpful, actionable industry info.

But I digress ...

Back to the topic at hand, here is a sampling of some of the variations, additional resources, and idea-stimulating comments shared on my Storystorm post: (Note: I've not provided attributions, as the blog platform's user names aren't necessarily real names, but you can directly access the post and comments here if you'd like to follow-up more comprehensively regarding specific sources on your own.): 

Some of the objects people used for this exercise include: a rock, a collection of Wordle words, and vintage postcards.

Someone googled "vintage toys" and used the images that came up via the search as their "object."

One commenter referred to her cat who happened to be on her lap as she wrote.  

Several people gave inspiring labels for the objects used in the exercise such as, "literary treasures" and "idea generators." Someone said, "My house is filled with objects for inspiration."

Someone did a similar exercise at an assisted living facility, helping the elderly residents use "words from their memories and tactile sensations to write free-verse 'poetry'" then compiled the results into a booklet.

Someone mentioned the exercise would be a great rainy day activity for parent/grandparent and child to do together. One person mentioned that she and her grandchild would do the activity together via WhatApp.

Someone mentioned Rob Walker and the literary experiment chronicled in the book, Significant Objects. (Rob Walker also has a book that I found called, The Art of Noticing.)
And, I learned from one commenter that my little glass bird is a Bluebird of Happiness, lovingly made in Arkansas (and I received comments from MANY other people who have special associations with their own little glass Bluebird of Happiness.  

Image of Lucy's Blooms picture book and Dawn's little glass bird aka, Bluebird of Happiness

Thank you once again to author Tara Lazar, for the opportunity to participate in Storystorm 2024 as a guest blogger. I'll continue to participate as a writer for the rest of the month. I'm well along my way to 30 ideas. Storystorm continues to blow my mind! 


  1. Yay, Dawn! How wonderful to hear that you were able to remind yourself of these great writing practices. Isn’t it funny how that works? We sometimes learn the most from TEACHING. And the sharing of encouragement and ideas is always inspiring. I loved reading your day 6 Storystorm and this post too!!

  2. Dawn, I absolutely loved this post- and your post for day 6 of Storystorm. Isn’t it funny how we can learn the most from teaching? I think it’s because it helps reiterate and enforce those truths solidly in our mind. And hearing other’s experiences and suggestions is so inspirational. I just love the interchange of encouragement and resources in the Kidlit writing community.

    P.S. Hopefully I’m not leaving my comment twice! My phone browser got sketchy.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Chelsea. I'm so glad you enjoyed the posts. And yes, I always learn the most when I'm in teaching-mode! The Kidlit community is so wonderful, indeed!